The government on Friday added a popular Nagano ski resort, a scenic Hiroshima coastal city and four other locations to its designated areas as it tries to attract foreigners to rural regions.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said it had added the ski resort village of Hakuba in Nagano Prefecture, the town of Yuasa in Wakayama Prefecture — the birthplace of soy sauce — and the coastal city of Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture to 15 locations already designated under its Savor Japan program launched in 2016.
Also included are the mountainous Chichibu region of Saitama Prefecture and the Yamashiro district and the forest area called Mori no Kyoto in Kyoto Prefecture.
The program is designed to introduce foreign visitors to rural areas and various local farming, fisheries, food and culture experiences, as demand for tourism in Japan is shifting to experience-based activities off the beaten track.
The government aims to boost the number of foreign tourists by about 40 percent from 2017 to 40 million in 2020, the year the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics is held as a key part of its broader economic growth strategy.
In Yuasa, visitors can learn the history and production of soy sauce, while they can tour the scenic coastal city of Onomichi, which is known for its seafood.
To be designated, local communities need to have sufficient lodging facilities and multi-lingual guidance services for foreign guests.
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